The support and experience of other people in the same situation can be of huge benefit to a licensee when the pressure is on. John Porter looks at the help trade associations and unions can give.
Considering that running a successful pub is all about providing a convivial atmosphere in which people can meet and enjoy a drink, meal, game of darts or chat with their mates, it might be stretching a point to describe being a publican as a lonely occupation.
Nevertheless, when the pressure's on, running you own business can sometimes seem like a very solitary occupation indeed. At those times, the support and experience of other people in the same position can be a life saver. That's where trade unions and trade associations come in.
Associations connected to the pub trade, from the Guild of Master Brewers to the many Licensed Victuallers Associations (LVAs) which operate around the country, have a long history, but remain very relevant to today's businesses. LVAs provide practical support and advice on a local and national level, as well as providing a useful social network for local publicans. However, some of the local associations have suffered from recruitment problems in recent years, so your support for your local LVA will probably be very welcome.
The fact that the licensed trade has been something of a political football in recent years, means that lobbying the Government on various issues has become an important part of the work of trade associations. Along with the LVAs, associations such as the ALMR and BLRA (see directory for details of these organisations) have aimed to take an active role in leading the industry.
Perhaps one of the best known of the "new breed" of professional bodies is the British Institute of Innkeeping. The BII aims to put the trade on a more professional footing, providing training and support in all areas of the business. The BII now has over 16,500 members, and last year awarded over 53,000 qualifications.
Listing of trade unions and associations
The following is a listing of some of the major trade unions and associations which represent individuals and businesses involved in the licensed trade.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR)
Formed in 1992 specifically to represent licensed retailers with five or more pubs. The ALMR's primary function is to lobby government on behalf of its members, and current key topics include effective licensing reform, red tape and promotion of the charter for smoking in public places.
Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association (BLRA)
42 Portman Square
The BLRA is the largest trade association for the UK beer and pub industry. Its membership accounts for 98 per cent of UK beer production and ownership of more than half of Britain's pubs. Its aim is to promote the commercial interests of the beer and pubs sector.
British Institute of Innkeeping (BII)
The BII is the professional body for the licensed trade. Its mission is to promote high standards of professionalism throughout the licensed retail sector and to provide information, skills and qualifications to help members run successful businesses.
There is a range of grades of membership available aimed at those in different stages of their career in licensed retailing. The BII also has a range of qualifications aimed at both those new to the industry and experienced licensees looking to improve certain aspects of their business.
Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA)
126 Bradford Road
The FLVA is an association of local LVAs, and represents the interests of individual members of affiliated associations, as well as representing the views the LVA movement at a national level. It provides publications and training courses and can provide speakers for LVA meetings. It will also represent members at employment tribunals, rent reviews, etc.
Guild of Master Victuallers
The Royal Six Bells
The Guild's purpose is to protect and promote the interests of licensees, by maintaining business links with the brewers and pub operators, as well as with Government and official bodies. The Guild has specialist sections for tenants, lessees and freetraders.
Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA)
10 Walker Street
The SLTA represents all sections of the industry in Scotland. Its membership includes pubs, hotels, restaurants, entertainment and the off-trade. It aims to represent the interests of the trade at all level of government, and to provide licensees with a comprehensive range of cost saving membership benefits.
Federation of Retail Licensed Trade
91 University Street
The association for Northern Ireland's licensed trade, representing over 70 per cent of pubs in the Province.
A new benefit for members is the Federation's website, which will act as a "pub search" for NI pubs. Each member will have a page on the website
22/24 Worple Road
The GMB is a general trade union with more 700,000 members. Its Food and Leisure Section represents members working in the hospitality sector, as well as food and drink retail, distribution and manufacture.
Transport and General Workers Union
128 Theobalds Road
The TGWU is the largest food and drink union in the UK. It represents 85 per cent of brewery and beer distribution workers as well as several thousand bar staff.